ATLANTA - It was the World's Fair of hvac products, all on display under one roof. Show traffic for the three days of the AHR Expo was an elbow-jostling 27,400 visitors, with 22,300 exhibitor personnel. Jerry Gardner of BHW Sheet Metal, located 20 miles south of Atlanta in Jonesboro, proclaimed it all "a bit overwhelming" but well worthwhile.

This was 15% more than the last show held in Atlanta in 1996, and ranks as the 2nd largest AHR Expo ever, just behind Chicago '99.

The Exposition, which is co-sponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), is held in conjunction with ASHRAE's Winter Meeting.

Jimmie Roberts of the Duct Connection in Capitol Heights, Md., agreed it was worth the trip. "It's always a big show. It took me a solid day of walking just to get through it." He got what he came for, which he said was mainly news and information about sealers and adhesives.

"The floor traffic is the best I've ever seen," said Kirk & Blum salesman Jim Cloran, who has been attending AHR shows since 1985. "We've just been extremely busy. We're not only meeting new customers, but we're seeing our old ones."

Snips spent three days searching the aisles for new and interesting products, and came across the following:

CertainTeed Corp. debuted its new moisture-repellent duct liner surface enhancement, "ToughGard" with Enhanced Surface. The company also announced that the feature is now available on ToughGard R, its rotary-based duct liner. Both products offer excellent acoustical and thermal performance, but now won't absorb moisture. "The new surface helps alleviate some specifiers' concerns about moisture that may enter a duct system due to improperly sealed duct joints or poorly installed and maintained duct systems," said company spokesman Tom Newton. The "breathable" surface coating preserves sound-dampening performance by allowing sound waves to pass through the open-cell structure and into the sound-absorbing glass fiber mat. ToughGard duct liners with Enhanced Surface also have an EPA-registered anti-microbial to reduce the opportunity for mold growth.

One new product was the "Magnum Closure" from Advanced Duct Systems of Houston, a computer-controlled machine that closes fiberglass ductboard and applies the heat seal automatically, making it easier to install.

ProTech Systems of Albany, N.Y. was introducing its new "FasNSeal" venting system high efficiency gas and oil heaters at the show. The FasNSeal does not require silicone to seal seams and joints, eliminating common installation errors. Just pushing the vent lengths or components together creates water-tight joints. ProTech president Martin Wawrla said the Expo was "very good" when it came to reaching his company's target audiences of contractors, reps, OEMs and distributors.

Ducts and ventilation

INDEECO showed a new in-duct unit heater and a new controller since Honeywell discontinued its 3-stage thermostat, according to a company spokesperson.

Ruskin showed its FSD's, grille-accessible actuators in the airstream with no retaining angles.

Thermoflex showed flexible duct and a new flexible duct elbow.

Macurco showed a new ventilation control sensor to aid in ventilating parking garages and similar applications.

Greenheck showed a new mixed flow inline fan which combines the features of a centrifugal with a vane axial fan. The result is efficient air flow at reduced noise levels. It's good for all office building applications, but especially for acoustic-sensitive performing arts centers, concert halls, etc. A universal type of mounting makes it flexible enough for the end users.

Stamped Fittings Inc. introduced its new one-piece, die-stamped 908 Saddle Tap, cheaper to produce than fabricated tees, available in 6-in., 8-in., 10-in. and 12-in. (branch size) on 8-in. through 24-in. in 2-in. (pipe size) increments. They are made under the yellow union label.

Foremost Duct announced availability now of rectangular, round and oval ductwork for one-stop shopping, in addition to accessories such as duct sealer, access doors, volume dampers, etc. Connection systems include AccuFlange, Keating Koupling, Angle Rings and Spiralmate. Polyvinyl coated raw material is available in master and slit coil.

Johns Manville's Fire Protection Systems Group announced at the show the approved use of its "Super Firetemp" T-board and "Firetemp" wrap for the fire protection of ventilation ducts and exhaust ducts. Now, manufacturers of hvac equipment can use JM-approved fire protection system products to connect their equipment to ventilation and exhaust ducts, with zero clearance between products and combustibles.

The Chimney Cap Corporation showed some attractive stainless steel or copper chimney caps, also flex duct that is corrugated on the outside but smooth on the inside for unimpeded air flow and less dust buildup. The company sells direct to contractors.

Deflecto showed vent fans for bathrooms that are good for both heating and ac together, and the 4 Fan, a register boot/box kit and under-eve vent kits that can eliminate unsightly roof vents.

Foster Products showed its duct sealants and a new Fos-Stik 85-45 spray can adhesive for flexible and rigid foam insulation. It resists soaking and contains no chlorinated solvents.

Tjernlund Products (White Bear Lake, Minn.) showed its new "Auto-Draft" variable speed venting system, a practical alternative to metal louvers. It can network up to 14 different appliances. Modern boilers and water heaters have low stack temperatures, and thus low levels of natural draft. With modulating heaters and modular heating systems, the chimney has to be sized based on the maximum firing rate of all units. When all units are not in use, the chimney becomes oversized for the task and cannot provide proper draft. "Auto-Draft" monitors vent system pressure and draws combustion gases out of the chimney, automatically maintaining a user-set draft that maximizes burner efficiency and energy savings.

McGill Airflow showed an interesting new product that could have far-ranging applications across many applications: an anti-microbial coating inside the duct. McGill was working on an agreement with a steel company and also awaiting EPA approval for the coating's use. This would be ideal for many hospitals and schools in improving indoor air quality, and follows the expanded use of antimicrobial coatings and sprays in air filters, and many other products as well.

Owens Corning showed its Vaporwick for chilled water systems. Like the name implies, this is a material that allows moisture from cold water pipes to condense on it, but then wicks it away to the outside air where it can evaporate, eliminating drips. It would be useful for many situations, such as sports arenas.

QuickPen showed its PipeDesigner 3D in AutoCAD R14.01 and 2000. It is based on QuickPen's new Virtual Solid Modeling Engine, which produces solid-modeled parts on demand based on a comprehensive data-base of parts.

Research Products, Madison, Wis., showed its newest air filter, this one incorporating a fine metal mesh that makes its popular media filter also an electrostatic one, still under the Aprilaire name. It now offers the advantages of both electrostatic and media filters, acting on both small and larger airborne dust particles.

Ductmate Inds., Monongahela, Pa., showed a new UL-listed high temperature duct access door and a new flange for round ductwork, also an inner ring for lined ductwork, both round and oval. Tammy Beaman (center) and Jerry Gardner (left), both of BHW Sheet Metal, Jonesboro, Ga., get product information from Dan Manion of Ductmate. Also of interest was the "ProFlex" vibration dampening flexible duct connector, for commercial or residential applications, available in galvanized, stainless steel or aluminum; and "Ovalmate" and "Spiralmate" duct connection systems.

Gray Metal Products' (Avon, N.Y.) David Isgriggs showed a new SMACNA bead, simple yet effective, formed into these 18X30 return air panels that make the panels more rigid, with less noise and rattle from sudden or high pressure air movement.

Palmer-Wahl Instrumentation Group was showing off several of its newest products, including its Palmer pressure gauge, which stays rock-steady under pressure.

MetalAire introduced its "Phenomenator," an environmental diffuser with one of the highest induction rates in the industry. It was designed for applications where minimal temperature differences between the floor and ceiling are required, such as offices, reception areas and conferences rooms. The Phenomenator mixes large volumes of room air into the supply air jet, almost completely eliminating pockets of stagnant air.

Strapp Technologies, Naples, Fla., reports it has now been manufacturing for several months. Products include the Hammerstrap, Baystrap, Clipstrap, Permastrap and Anchorstrap for supporting and securing ducts, flues, tubing and other pipe.

A late exhibitor entry which celebrated its debut showed the "Flex Riggin Strap" for the installation of flexible duct. It is meant to replace the current use of nylon strapping/roll materials, tie wraps or thin metal banding for hanging flexible duct from steel or wooden joists. Each Flex Riggin Strap is designed to provide a full 3 1/2" of support and multiple hanging choices to eliminate kinking, sagging and the resultant air flow restrictions and R-value degradation. It is from Evesham Enterprises, LLC.

Stamford, Conn.-based Lindab Inc. has introduced a new double wall spiral connector that is intended to save installation time and produce a better seal. The standard means of connecting double wall duct was cumbersome and more time-consuming, and didn't always yield the best of results. The result was a new inner liner that mounts flush with the duct to be connected, along with a closed cell, EPDM-type of material that extends beyond both the inner and outer pipe much like a gasket. Another product developed recently is called Spiro Flange and is meant to create an improved addition to three more-or-less standard methods of joining oval ductwork. The new Spiro Flange is meant to lend an easier, quicker alternative.

Custom Curb showed a new drop diffuser system for the hvac market, as the company says "We're not just in the roof curbs business." The product is said to be ideal for large retail outlets and warehouses such as Wal-Marts and Lowe's, and eliminates the need for ductwork in some applications. ThyCurb showed its "Retro-Mate" system. (One would think roof curbs to be a relatively small niche at the show - actually, 37 companies were listed under this category in the Program Directory!)

TIF Instruments, a brand of Advanced Test Products, recently developed the TIF8500A CO analyzer to accurately measure CO levels from 0 to 10,000 ppm. Its "voice" feature calls out the numbers, useful when working in dark areas.

AHR Expo 2002 will be held in the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., January 14-16.

(Note: If you had an announcement or a product that did not make it into this post-show issue, please send it to Snips, 755 W. Big Beaver, 10th floor, Troy, Mich. 48084; e-mail: base@bnp.com.)